The flu kept me from updating this week, but hopefully I’ll be back on schedule now.
The country has met their first deadline for destroying their chemical weapons stockpiles. And without a U.S. bombing campaign!
Unfortunately, as foreign fighters enter Syria and refugees flee to neighboring countries, aid workers are starting to see cases of a disease that was completely eradicated from Syria twelve years ago: polio.
NSA and State Secrecy:
The State Department is not pleased with some of the NSA’s shenanigans. And the NSA is not pleased with State’s criticism. I’ll have a piece with more thoughts on the whole spying on other world leaders later this week, barring any unexpected illnesses.
British authorities who detained Glenn Greenwald’s (the reporter who broke the Edward Snowden leaks) partner, David Miranda, have decided to try claiming that he was engaging in terrorism and espionage as a justification for their actions. They’ve been engaging in other fun activities like smashing the The Guardian’s (Greenwald’s newspaper) equipment to try and deter them from publishing future stories like the ones Snowden leaked.
The NSA also taps into Google and Yahoo’s data centers. Not super surprised anymore, but still pissed off about it.
But good news! Lawmakers have proposed the USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk phone records collection, strengthen rules against spying on Americans’ communications, and establish an advocate in charge of arguing for privacy protections in front of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It’s being introduced in the Senate, so find your Senators here and contact them to tell them to support it!
Congress heard from survivors of drone strikes for the first time this week, speaking out about the death of their grandmother and asking for answers about how she could have possibly been targeted. The family traveled all the way from North Waziristan, Pakistan, but apparently only five members of Congress could put in the effort it took to attend the hearing. You stay classy, U.S. government.
Days later, a drone strike killed one of the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban. Other media outlets will doubtless provide you with a positive spin on this, so I will instead direct your attention to this piece, which points out that the strike comes just as Pakistan’s government was beginning peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. Although the government has condemned the strike, given their history of secretly approving and sometimes helping to choose drone targets, this could make those negotiations problematic.
A male writer and teacher was arrested for supporting the women’s driving protest in Saudi Arabia mentioned last week.
I’ve written before about Burma. Unfortunately, violence and ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslim minority continues there.
Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to smooth relations with Saudi Arabia, which are becoming more strained as the Kingdom and the U.S. have found themselves on opposite sides of regional issues like a potential Syrian intervention and support for the military government in Egypt.
And finally, my most recent article for Policy Mic: http://www.policymic.com/articles/70361/one-of-the-world-s-greatest-nuclear-threats-is-closer-to-home-than-you-think